Okay, so SXSW is so last week, but I hate blogging while I’m at things because I like to digest and reflect, but also, I like to actually enjoy things while I’m there (you can blog when you get home!). Thus, I present part one of my fashionably late reflections on Facebook from SXSW interactive:
Last year the geeks were all abuzz about Twitter, arguably making SXSW the tipping point in the sites’ success. Facebook’s only honour last year was winning in the oddly titled “Classic” category at the 2007 web awards.
Facebook wasn’t exactly this year’s Twitter, but nothing else was either. By this year’s SXSW, Facebook had already reached it’s tipping point, especially in major English speaking urban centres, like Toronto. So basically, Facebook is already normal and dominant and is normalizing the social use of the web by everyone. And when I say normal, I mean normal like you-don’t-even-think-about-it-anymore-and-neither-does-your-mother. A lot of the excitement I saw last year was because everyone had this sense that we were doing something new and groundbreaking. Ze Frank’s opening video from last year’s web awards captured this feeling. When they played it, everyone freaked out cuz it struck a chord. But this year, not so much. People weren’t even talking about Web 2.0 anymore (much to my eternal joy, because that term is so ridiculous and ambiguous), but were instead opting for the more reserved “social media” or “social networking” (which speaks again to the dominance of Facebook). Sure, there were way more people and the party lines were longer. But Yahoo! didn’t even have a party and the schwag was few and far between. No free geek tshirts for me doesn’t mean much to the average person, but the fact remains that SXSW is a good indicator of mainstream tech use, kinda like how fashion shows are extreme examples of what kind of clothes people are going to be wearing that season. When things are normal people don’t tend to care as much, which is probably why there wasn’t a ‘this year’s Twitter’ (or, the new Twitter is… Twitter.) Facebook and the web more broadly are becoming just like everything else, normal and boring.
And you know what? The people at Facebook know it (well, not the boring part. They still think it’s pretty exciting). This was evident at the developer’s garage and friends.get party (both hosted by Facebook) where there were huge plasma screens showing a Facebook promo video (that Luke awesomely recorded for me). Aside from being blatant ripoff/nod to last year’s “We Are the Machine,” the main thrust of the video was that Facebook is a normal extension of everyday life.
The message in this video is echoed by a recent ad campaign by Canada’s Roger’s Wireless promoting their mobile Facebook service, which let’s you “tell the whole story as it happens” on your Blackberry. Canadian mobile carriers are so far behind the rest of the world that if they’re pushing something, you know it’s huge.
Stay tuned for part two: rethinking my hate for Facebook (after a chat with Mark Zuckerberg. lulz)